Guess what day it is? Teaser Tuesday! :)

Here’s another teaser from my upcoming novel Forever Broken, due out in early May. You can add it to your TBR here.

Teaser #1 (Prologue) can be found here

Chapter One (unedited and subject to change)

August 26, 2013

Natalie

The early morning sun gently warmed my cheeks as I sat on the steps of Eaton Humanities Building, waiting for Sociology 101 to start. The clean, warm Colorado air was sweet and comforting, filled with the memories of summer’s afterglow as fall started to set in.

But summer was over.

It was August 26, which marked the first day of the fall semester at University of Colorado, Boulder. While I was grateful for the start of another busy semester—to keep my mind busy and my emotions in check—today was not one of those days I was grateful for.

Today was the anniversary of a date that would be forever seared into my mind. A date that was a constant reminder of my past and what I had done and what I had to live with for the rest of my life. But I knew I had to keep it together today and keep my mind busy to get through it. After three years, I just had to get through this anniversary without a breakdown.

But before I knew it was happening, I was plunged into a familiar distant memory. Images of a room spinning uncontrollably around me flashed through my mind. I could almost smell the distinct aroma in the air. My body tensed as if it was happening all over again. I felt sick. I shook my head violently, willing the memory out of my mind. I took in a few deep breaths, trying to breathe in the warm sweet air again and block out that distinct smell from my thoughts. I shifted my body and tried to steady myself. It’s been over three years now. I have to move on from that moment. I’m not sure how, but I just have to.

I stared out into Norlin Quad and watched as a sea of students rushed passed. I could feel the excited energy surrounding them as they hurried to their first day of class. As I watched, I noticed that a few feet away from me, growing out of a crack in the pavement, was a dandelion, full with its delicate, off-white plume of dandelion seeds.

As I watched, a gust of wind blew through and a number of the delicate seeds parachuted off the stem and floated away, drifting freely at the whim of the wind, and gliding to their next destination. I yearned to be one of those dandelion seeds, to sail away effortlessly from its once-shackled existence on the dandelion stem. To be wild, free, and hopeful for its future. To be free from its past.

Some time must have past as I lost myself in my thoughts, because when I checked my phone, it was 8:15 a.m.

“Shit,” I exclaimed as I swung my tote over my shoulder and raced up the steps towards the door of Eaton Humanities Building. I was fifteen minutes late, and I hated being late for class, especially on the first day.

I pulled my class schedule out of my bag and double-checked that I was heading to the right lecture hall. As I approached the entrance to the lecture hall, I could see that the double doors to the room were already closed.

Crap.

I took a deep breath and gingerly pushed against the metal lever to open the door.

CLUNK.

The door gave away with a loud metal sound. Several dozen heads turned towards the double doors at the front of the lecture hall, spotting the cause of the disruption. The late arrival. Me. Ugh. Of course the doors to this lecture hall had to be in the front of the room, I thought bitterly. What an awesome start to this day.

The professor gave me a quick sideways glance as he continued talking. “So all the information you’ll need will be in the syllabus that’s being passed around. It’s also available on the website for this class.”

I quickly looked around, painstakingly scanning the room for an empty seat. I usually preferred to sit towards the front of the class. I had worked hard to get a full-ride to college, and my grades were one of the few things about me that I was proud of—actually, my grades were probably the only thing about me that I was proud of.

But today of all days, the lecture hall was packed, in part because it was the first day of class, and everyone showed up on the first day. And also, although this was one of the larger lecture halls on campus, with the capacity to seat three hundred people, Sociology 101 was one of the prerequisite electives that everyone had to take before graduating. It also didn’t help that this class was well-known to be an easy A. In fact, I had purposely taken this no-stress class to balance out my two hard science classes this semester: Organic Chemistry and Principles of Genetics. These were one of the two last classes I needed as a pre-med student, and I knew they would take up the majority of my time this semester.

After what felt like several long minutes, I finally spotted a seat in the very back row. Damn it. I hated the back row.That was totally the slacker section. I quickly walked carefully up the steps to the last row, trying to avoid drawing any more attention to myself, and took the lone empty seat in the last row. By the time I was seated, I felt my cheeks hot with a mixture of embarrassment and annoyance. I fumbled in my tote for my iPad and keypad to start taking down the information the professor was saying.

“Quite an entrance there,” came a low whisper to my left. I thought I heard a hint of a snicker in this guy’s voice.

“Thanks,” I whispered back as I furrowed my brow and turned to look at him. What an asshole.

But when my eyes met his, my breath caught and my heart must have stopped. All my annoyance evaporated and was replaced with a rare nervousness that I wasn’t sure I’d ever felt before.

“Hi,” he whispered as he leaned towards me with an effortlessly-sexy smile. His green eyes were sincere and mysterious as they twinkled at me. He was dark and handsome with thick, wavy dark-brown locks. His facial features were chiseled with a broad, set jaw. There was a slight scar above his right eyebrow that seemed to add an extra dose of allure and mystery to him. As he looked at me, his face carried a sexy, brooding look, like he was studying me in a way that penetrated to my soul.

Shit, he’s fucking hot! This was not the normal reaction I had when I met a guy. Since joining my sorority during freshman year, I have casually dated and slept with my fair share of attractive college guys around campus that other woman would have categorized as “fucking hot.” But this guy was something completely different. This guy was in a league of his own. In fact, I was pretty sure that if you were to look up “fucking hot” in the dictionary, there he would be, looking back at you in the same way he was looking at me right now.

“Hey,” I finally managed to mutter as I pulled my eyes off him and turned my attention to the professor.

“I’m Dylan Hutchins.” He extended his hand towards me, pulling my attention back to him. There was an air of confidence about him that was incredibly sexy and different. Not the sort of arrogant confidence that the typical popular college guy gave off, but something else. This confidence seemed relaxed and real, like he was completely comfortable in his own skin, which is the type of confidence most college students, including myself, lacked.

I reached my hand out to shake his, and a part of me thought about how oddly formal this was—but not odd enough for me to turn down a chance to touch him. He smiled when our hands touched—a wide smile that lit up the room. It also lit up a place inside me that had been dark and vacant for a long time, like an empty room abandoned years ago. His touch seemed to have unlocked and opened the door to that room, casting light in, exposing me to him, and leaving me more vulnerable than I have ever felt before. All this from a simple touch. This frightened me.

I pulled my hand back towards me as I nodded at him and gave him a small smile, trying to act nonchalant and unaffected by his natural charm.

He gave me an amused smile that I couldn’t quite understand. Is there something on my face? Why is he staring at me that way?

I turned my attention towards the front of the room. I refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing that I was affected by him in any way. He didn’t say anything, and yet, from the corner of my eyes, I could see that he continued to look at me.

“What’s wrong?” I finally asked as I turned to him, unable to take his intense gaze any longer.

“Well,” he said with a chuckle, “it’d be nice if you told me your name. I mean, I just introduced myself and you shook my hand but haven’t said a word.”

“Oh.” I felt my face grow hot. What is wrong with me? Why am I blushing uncontrollably? I didn’t usually act this way with men, not anymore at least. Not when I’ve vowed to not get romantically involved with anyone. So what was it about this guy that made me feel … vulnerable?

“Natalie. Natalie Brightman.” My eyes reflexively marveled at his muscular shoulders and arms, and noticed the way his t-shirt clung onto his body. Pull yourself together, I thought to myself as I forced my eyes away from his perfect body and up to his eyes. My breath caught again as he looked back at me with his rich, green hypnotic eyes. I knew right then that those eyes would be my Achilles’ heel. Those eyes would be the end of me.

“I like that,” he said smoothly as he lips curled into a seductive smile.

“Like what?” I asked, wondering if I’d missed something he had just said. Because quite honestly, with those eyes, I knew I could get lost in them and not even realize it.

“Your name.” His response was short and simple, yet it seemed to be laced with layers of meaning.

“Oh.” Unsure of how to respond, I pretended to turn my attention back to the professor at the front of the room as my mind raced around his words.

This was all so completely ridiculous. Since when have I, Natalie Brightman, been caught off guard like this? Since when had I felt so flustered because of a guy? And yet … a part of me wanted more of whatever this guy was making me feel. My heart raced in a way that was foreign to me. It wasn’t racing due to fear or worry. It was something else, something completely entirely different.

“As a well-known sociologist, Peter L. Berger once said,” came the professor’s words from the front of room, ‘“It can be said that the first wisdom of sociology is this—things are not what they seem.’”

Something about what the professor said struck a cord inside me and pulled my attention away from Dylan.

“This is true for all of us, regardless of how transparent our lives seem to be,” he continued.

Just then, I saw a movement from the corner of my eyes. I turned slightly to look at Dylan and noticed that his attention was also on the professor. He shifted in his chair. Was it my imagination, or does he seem uncomfortable? But how could his entire demeanor change so drastically from just a few seconds ago?

“Now, as you see from the syllabus, you will have one paper due in this class,” the professor said. “For this paper, I want you to write about something from your past that is not what it may seem to others. You will be required to apply the theory and principles that we will learn throughout the semester to this paper. So while you have the entire semester to work on it, I do not recommend putting this off until the end. You should start thinking back on your past and ask yourself what are some things in your life that may not be what they seem. You don’t have to tell me in your paper the specific of that past. For your paper, I want you to apply the things we learned in this class. This paper will be worth forty percent of your grade.”

A wave a dread rippled through me as I listened to the professor’s instructions. Maybe this wasn’t going to be an easy A of a class after all.

{ 3 comments }

Happy Monday folks!

Guess what? I’m so excited about this! DAMIAN is now available on audiobook!

If you’re interested in grabbing your copy, do you know you can do it for FREE!? If you’re new to Audible, you can get your first audiobook free during your first 30-day trial! Just go directly through www.audible.com.

DAMIAN audiobook can be found here:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1lwngPm
iTunes: http://bit.ly/1pntzL2
Audible directly: http://bit.ly/1eY5Ht7

Yay! Maybe I’m being silly, but this is so exciting to me! My very first audiobook! :)

Damian audible

xo,

Jess

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